Universal Mobile Interface

The right timing for mobile marketing

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on March 19, 2009

I just come from yet another meeting with a major consumer retail brand that would like to explore the potential of the mobile as a new channel to communicate with their customer base. I remember an executive in one of the leading European mobile operators stating: “Within two years all major brands will have mobile presence – or they will not exist”. This was about three years ago but seems today as a rather relevant statement.

There is today a general enthusiasm over mobile marketing combined with a healthy awareness regarding the limitations. The initial a bit naïve view that just doing an app will solve my needs as a brand to reach the technically advanced customers, have now matured into understanding what can be achieved but also that this is not just about doing an app.

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Looking at mobile marketing successes in the past, they are mainly sms-based campaigns. But this is not a scalable approach. If we should redirect marketing spending to this type of activities then each consumer will be spammed far beyond what anyone can accept, eventually totally killing the opportunities. Will then moving from the sms-approach to the app solve the issue?

Moving into an app-approach is mainly to extend the present web marketing with a mobile extension but with some pros and cons. You then get the same issues as on the web like: how do I become visible and searchable; how to incentivise customers to return frequently to my digital shop; the need to log in to get there personal offers; etc. The mobile do except for its given limitations also bring some additional values like: the mobile is always accompanying the consumer, all offers can be reachable from the mobile when on the move as well as club memberships; you get a strong tool for viral marketing campaigns; etc. Mobile marketing has a fantastic potential but sms-campaigns and apps are not the complete solution. We need to find ways to extend the present web into the mobile and taking advantage of the unique benefits of the mobile, but without ending up in an app jungle.

Coming back to the consumer retail brand and their ambitions. What do they ask for? They want to explore the mobile as a new communication and marketing channel for their key customers. They want to be able to reach all customers irrespectively of what phones and what operator they have. They want to have simple solutions based on existing web services and functionality and that they can manage real time themselves without involving it-departments or consultants. This all sound very reasonable and is essential to get this to work. What they ask for is a Universal Mobile Interface.

Finally some general advice to those that plan to utilise mobile marketing:

  • The mobile channel will not replace print and web but will act as a complement to the existing channels.
  • Mobile marketing will initially attract a limited but growing segment of the customer base.
  • Base the mobile solution on the present web services and do not build a separate mobile system.
  • Incentivise and educate the customer base to gradually move from print to digital channels.
  • The content on the site needs to be updated even more frequently on a mobile site. A “dead site” will immediately loose the attention of the consumer.
  • Build in viral elements such as mobile to mobile coupon distribution.
  • Choose scalable solutions that have the potential to reach and be used by the majority of the customer base.
  • Start with limited pilots gaining experience and avoiding disappointing customers with immature services.
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  1. […] profitable products and services the mobile will undoubtedly be a very important part of the marketing communication mix and will, correctly used, be a quite profitable and necessary component. These players should also […]


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